Dorothy L Sayers In Gaudy Night

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Many of the characters and themes of Dorothy L Sayers' detective fiction offer a reflection of the mentality of interwar British society, as well as both the societal and personal conflicts which Sayers faced, particularly in regards to her difficult position as an educated, progressive woman at a time when gender equality and gender stereotypes were very prominent issues. Strong Poison (1930) and a later book in the series, Gaudy Night (1935), are two of the novels which most clearly reflect a number of aspects of Sayers' life. In both Strong Poison and Gaudy Night, one of the central characters, Harriet Vane, is a depiction of Sayers herself, sharing very similar personal histories, traits, and opinions. Several aspects of Sayers' life are…show more content…
'It isn't hard to see the relationship between the dashing Lord Peter and Sayers's alter ego, Harriet Vane, as an attempt to improve on the disappointments of Sayers's own romantic life' (The Guardian, 2008, July 23); many suspect that the relationship between the sleuth Peter Wimsey and detective novelist Harriet Vane to be a representation of Sayers' ideal relationship. As Brabazon indicates, the event of the first world war and the subsequent loss of eligible bachelors had quite a significant impact on Sayers' life. Sayers had at least three love affairs, two of which ended poorly and the third of which ended in marriage, and Brabazon suggests the character of Lord Peter Wimsey is the result of this, as Sayers created her own ideal man in him (Brabazon, 1981). The relationship between Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane offers the possibility of an intelligent woman finding happiness in both her work and her marriage to a wealthy, noble…show more content…
Although Harriet Vane 'gains in status in the eyes of others through her connection with Lord Peter Wimsey' (Humble, 2001, p. 65), she only accepts his proposal when he makes it clear that he views her as an intellectual equal, having proved himself to her. Another notable aspect of the character of Lord Peter Wimsey is that he is a victim of shell-shock, and the decision to portray him in this way is quite clearly influenced by the post-World War One context in which Sayers lived, and her husband's trauma following the war in particular, as Sayers witnessed the devastating effects of the war first hand. As Freedman states, the decision to portray Lord Peter Wimsey as a victim of shell shock 'allowed Sayers to address the repercussions of trauma in post-war England, and the series of questions about character and individual responsibility that the sudden visibility of mental illness in the person of the shell-shocked soldier had occasioned' (2010, p. 373). The portrayal of the character of Lord Peter Wimsey reflects several aspects of Sayers' life, such as her admiration of the aristocracy and her experiences with the trauma which resulted from the First World
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